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How Franchising Helped America’s Economy Recover in 2015

We’re not being biased. No, not at all. But what we witnessed first-hand across the franchising industry last year was miles apart from the gloom and doom of the too-big-to-fail stories that kept a damper on the American conscience. In fact, the economic recovery owes a big thanks to the growth of franchisors and the development of franchise networks across the U.S. and abroad. It’s safe to say that the American Dream is alive and well. And, better than that, being in business for yourself but not by yourself continues to be a possibility for a growing number of franchise owners from all points across the globe.

Acquisitions showcased buying power, brand strength and a positive outlook for future business growth

What slow recovery? Consider Dwyer Group, Inc., in Waco, Texas, the poster child for strength and prosperity in 2015 with

a record year of growth that rivaled any franchisor in America. Long before the holiday shopping season, Dwyer Group and private equity firm Riverside Company went on a buying spree that signaled the immediacy of opportunity and the vision of a parent company for multiple service brands to be a beacon for the industry. Last year, Dwyer completed four acquisitions, grew the organization to 13 service brands, and expanded the network to 2,500+ franchise locations across 10 countries that now exceed 3 million service calls and $1.3 billion in system-wide sales a year. The organization has grown some 50% since it was acquired for a second time by Riverside in the summer of 2014 and expects the growth to continue in the coming year.

America embraced discretionary spending that signaled record growth for many franchisors

Amidst low gas prices, the Fed continued to keep interest rates low to encourage spending. Consumers said cheers to that, and they celebrated by painting the town in a whole new way – the paint and sip way. As discretionary spending gathered momentum, so did date nights, girls night out groups, company team-building events and birthday parties where people embraced this new form of entertainment by sipping wine while creating their own masterpiece in record numbers. And Pinot’s Palette, the fastest-growing paint and sip chain in North America, kept the party going all year long. The franchisor celebrated 59 new studio openings – a company record – and expanded internationally with its first agreement for Canada. System-wide sales grew 70 percent and the franchise network also

surpassed one million reservations. Franchise Business Review ranked Pinot’s Palette the #1 franchise for veterans, and co-founders Charles Willis, Beth Willis and Craig Ceccanti later were inducted into the LSU 100, honoring the top companies founded or led by graduates of Lousiana State University. And forget any kind of hangover. This is a business celebration with a strong forecast in 2016.

It was a year of transparency for restaurants as well

If franchise concepts helped prop up the economy, many restaurant franchisors were challenged to help consumers stay healthy too. The demand for better food, healthier ingredients and responsible menu labeling took center stage. That put the brakes on many QSRs who were forced to rebrand or lose market share. Couple that with health scares at iconic chains for e-coli outbreaks, and  2015 ushered in a new era to raise the bar of healthy fast-casual chains well above the motto of “Food with Integrity.”

Meanwhile, it was the perfect time for UFood Grill to debut a new restaurant prototype, an enhanced menu, and “healthy” franchise incentives for an award-winning fast-casual brand centered on the theme “Where Delicious Meets Nutritious.” The brand quickly added Discovery Days, awarded traditional and non-traditional agreements, added Maryland to its expansion map, and closed the year with a record-setting five openings across U.S. Air Force Bases. Thank you, America! This is the business model that will keep franchise owners and a growing customer base hungry for the right stuff!

Business success at franchise organizations translated into a surge in philanthropic endeavors

Alongside the success of franchisors and franchisees came a resurgence in doing good by giving back as well. Dwyer Group participated in a

Light Haiti Mission that was nothing short of life-changing for an entire village in Haiti to receive a clean renewable energy source through a supply of solar lights complete with training and education to local residents to care for their new gifts. The Women in the Trades program at Dwyer Group also awarded a record number of scholarships for women across America to further their education and training at accredited programs for the various service trades.

Serial entrepreneur Tariq Farid, the Founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements, Naranga and numerous other companies, also turned one of his biggest  years of business success into one of the biggest years at the Tariq Farid Foundation, donating to dozens and dozens of non-profits and worthy causes around the world. From food pantries and diaper banks, to educational support for refugee children and medical supplies to third-world countries, the only thing to rival headlines from the foundation is the passion Farid has for sharing his success by helping others both in business and in need.

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